NetBSD Has Some Wayland Support But X11 Is Far More Mature

Written by Michael Larabel in Wayland on 29 September 2020 at 07:46 AM EDT. 16 Comments
Following the news yesterday of NetBSD changing its default X11 window manager after two decades with TWM to now using CTWM by default, some wondered why they don't jump on the Wayland bandwagon.

NetBSD does actually have Wayland support albeit very limited and thus far better off with X11 support until Wayland compositors have better BSD support and other improvements made for benefiting the NetBSD support as well as the likes of FreeBSD.

NetBSD developer Nia Alarie wrote a blog post yesterday outlining that they have the SWC Wayland Compositor packaged via pkgsrc, but that the X11 support is better positioned. One of the big problems with Wayland compositors right now for BSD distributions is they tend to rely on libinput for input handling, which is focused on the Linux input APIs. Due to NetBSD's very different input API, changes need to be made either to the compositor or extending libinput for more input APIs.

There are also SWC compositor issues around bugs and stability woes, some software like Firefox and others not working on SWC due to lack of XWayland support, and the graphics/display driver requirements limit where Wayland can be used.

Nia outlined steps that can be done to improve the Wayland support, but concluded with, "I've decided to take a break from this, since it's a fairly huge undertaking and uphill battle. Right now, X11 combined with a compositor like picom or xcompmgr is the more mature option." More details can be found on the NetBSD blog.
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